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EDITORIAL: Still no end to drug tra

Subject: EDITORIAL: Still no end to drug trafficking 

Editorial & Opinion 
EDITORIAL: Still no end to drug trafficking

According to the International Narcotics Control Board's annual report,
released Tuesday, the global use and trafficking of drugs have ballooned.
Clearly the world is fighting a losing battle against drug abuse, and it is
only through a concerted international effort that this scourge can be

The report paints a rather gloomy picture of the global drug problem. It
that while the situation in Asia is facing a new challenge, the level of drug
use, particularly of amphetamines, in Thailand must be given serious
In addition, the number of seizures of heroin in Asia has increased over the
past four years. However, there is a positive trend in the anti-heroin
in Thailand as the seizures have decreased drastically from 1.29 tonnes in
to a mere 0.25 of a tonne in 1998. 

China is the only country that has witnessed a rise in heroin seizures from
tons in 1994 to seven tons in 1998. If this trend continues, China will emerge
as one of the world's biggest consumers of heroin, which does not augur well
for the world's most populous country as it continues to face the
challenges of
market reforms. According to the annual report, illicit trade in
amphetamine-type stimulants is reaching a record high in China and Burma,
have now become the two biggest sources for illicitly-made metamphetamine. 

The report also points to the abuse of amphetamine-type stimulants among
younger people in Thailand. Indeed during this time of economic crisis drug
abuse has increased in Thailand. So have the numbers of drug-pushers. More and
more young people, out of despair, are taking drugs and selling them. 

The global seizure of amphetamines reached 11 tonnes last year, of which four
tonnes were taken in the Southeast Asian region. It is quite disturbing to
that half of the drugs seized in the region were seized in Thailand. In other
words amphetamine seizure in Thailand amounted to some 20 per cent of the
world's total. This is a serious problem that needs quick remedial action. 

So far the Chuan government and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board have
done a remarkable job in increasing the awareness of the community of the
danger of drugs. The powers of the ONCB have also been augmented to where it

can now facilitate the arrest of traffickers. All this has increased the
efficiency of the anti-drug enforcers. 

Drug abuse is a global phenomenon, and to combat it requires strong
international cooperation. One such weapon is the 1998 UN Convention against
Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. It has spurred
tangible measures against the trafficking in and abuse of drugs, and Thailand,
which is a signatory to the pact, has been working closely with international
anti-drug enforcers in carrying out its responsibilities. 

For instance last year there was better control of the chemicals used to make
drugs. Some of the major drug routes in Asia were also closed off. In
through international drug treaties, the illicit trade in and manufacture of
psychoactive substances in China, Gabon and Central Asia have been dealt a
decisive blow. 

Asean signed a joint declaration of a drug-free region last July. Along with
Thailand, countries with high records of drug abuse, such as Vietnam and
have also extended their full cooperation. The main objective is to rid the
region of illicit production of, abuse of and trafficking in drugs by 2020. It
will no doubt take time to attain such noble objectives. 

However, such regional efforts have yet to produce tangible results. One
approach is to regard drug abuse and the increased use of amphetamines in
Thailand as the most serious health problem, one that needs the deployment of
all the government's resources. Otherwise, if the drug problem is left to
fester, it could pose a major threat to the nation's security in the coming

The Nation